Boxing champ Claressa Shields made her MMA debut for the Professional Fighters League (PFL) on Thursday night at PFL 4, and her debut in the new sport went all sorts of wrong until she completed an epic comeback victory in the final round.
Shields, 26, from Flint, Michigan, defeated veteran MMA fighter Brittney Elkin by TKO at 1:44 of the third round.
Shields was in trouble multiple times during the first two rounds. Elkin managed to get the boxing champ down to the ground early and often, but the 35-year-old just couldn’t finish the job from top position.
Shields appeared to hurt Elkin at the end of the second round after almost getting finished herself.
Then, Shields beat up Elkin in the third round until the fight was stopped due to punches.
You can watch Shields finish the job below.
ESPN’s SportsCenter hailed the win as an “incredible comeback”.
It was exactly that.
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MMA Community Reacts to PFL 4
After her win at PFL 4, the MMA community was ready to react to Shields stepping into their world.
Her most famous stablemate UFC superstar Jon Jones congratulated Shields. He posted, “Awesome job GWOAT”.
UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight “champ-champ” Amanda Nunes expressed some concern about what she saw during the first part of the fight. She used an emoji for it.
Bellator MMA women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg offered her support and praise of Shields. She posted, “Wow! @Claressashields can’t stop won’t stop! Congrats champ”.
UFC middleweight Derron Winn posted, “Omg @Claressashields is a dog for that…lets goooo. Come to AKA so we can brush ya wrestling skills up champ. Lol”.
UFC middleweight Derek Brunson posted, “Nice gut check by Claressa Shields. Weathered the storm, stayed calm in positions & got the stoppage. That was sheer WILL & determination!”.
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More Reactions to MMA Debut for Shields at PFL 4
Former UFC welterweight star Ben Askren posted, “Damn called it! Obviously @Claressashields has a long way to go to develop a full skill set but I am buying Shields stock for sure!”
Earlier, “Funky” had noted, “I love that @Claressashields has been in s*** positions the entire fight but still has stay[ed] disciplined and not panicked. [If] she can stay upright she TKOs her in the 3rd.”
But UFC featherweight Jared Gordon pulled a reverse Asken. Instead of tooting his own horn about an earlier tweet, Gordon showed how wrong he was in an earlier post. He posted, “Shields definitely showing some potential, super explosive and in great shape, obviously great hands, kicks looks fast and strong. That being said it’s just so hard to catch up to a brown belt on the ground…”.
But after Shields won via TKO, he posted, “This didn’t age well” in reference to his previous tweet.
UFC women’s strawweight contender Angela Hill posted, “Don’t care what happens at this point Shields has more guts than all these boxers and youtubers calling out mma fighters to box combined. Going into mma [is] f****** harrrd!”
UFC lightweight Kevin Lee posted, “Oooooooowwweeeee @Claressashields!!!! #PFL”.
UFC women’s flyweight contender Lauren Murphy expressed frustration watching the fight but had compliments for Shields.
Boxing champ Amanda Serrano expressed her congratulations for Shields.
And, of course, the best reaction is Shields own in her post-fight interview. The boxer-turned-MMA fighter is elated and explains how she won the third round, “I went crazy.”
Shields signed a three-year deal with the PFL last year, and she seems to be on her way to becoming one of the company’s most important assets. Shields is 1-0 in MMA, and Elkins fell to 3-7.
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